Ruin

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Ruin

Directed by Michael Cody, Amiel Courtin-Wilson

  • Australia 2013; 90 min
  • Original version: English
  • Genre: Drama
    • Special Orizzonti Jury Award - Venice IFF
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    Göteborg IFF

Synopsis

An impressionistic fable of trauma and love, Ruin is the story of Phirun and Sovanna—two lonely young Cambodians living amongst brutal surrounds—their isolated worlds gradually entwined through premonitions of vast bodies of water. Inexplicably drawn together and silently united on the streets of Phnom Penh, Phirun and Sovanna find refuge in one another until a sudden and brutal murder committed in self defence forces them to flee the city and travel deep into the jungle. As their vulnerable love ebbs and flows along their journey, they gradually open up to one another and find a profound intimacy that sits somewhere between platonic love and sexual desire. Unable to hold onto the impermanent peace and love cocooning them, they wake from the trauma of their former lives and unleash a violent rage upon the world. Love and death intermingle as they travel deeper into the abyss—the amorphous world strangely transforming around the two young lovers on the run.

Director's Statement

After HAIL had its international premiere at Venice in 2011, Michael Cody and I arrived in Cambodia with the objective of collaborating as co- writers, co- directors and co-producers on a feature film. At that nascent stage there was no script, story or financing whatsoever and we began RUIN by deciding to employ a similar documentary development methodology to HAIL. What lies at the heart of this unorthodox drama development and production approach is that research, writing, production and editing are all able to coalesce- not dissimilar to the way in which a documentary is developed through shooting. In the case of RUIN this involved an intensive period of research in Phnom Penh where we conducted in depth interviews with hundreds of people across a broad spectrum of society; high ranking police officials, homeless drug addicts, market vendors, charity workers, child prostitutes and young business entrepreneurs. It was a harrowing, inspiring and humbling period of months of deep conversation and immersion in various pockets of communities in Phnom Penh. At the same time Michael and I were transcribing these interviews and working on story outlines and script development. Eventually we narrowed the myriad of stories down and co-wrote a fifteen page story outline from which to devise improvisations. Simultaneous to this process, we also embarked upon a comprehensive casting process that involved working with both actors and non- actors. During this time we tested around 400 prospective cast and collected personal stories that in some instances also became part of the project. This entire process was made possible through the tireless passion of the Cambodian executive producer Kulikar Sotho. Kulikar is the most experienced producer in the local industry. A brilliant emerging filmmaker in her own right and with credits on a range of projects from Tomb Raider to Wish You Were Here. We became increasingly interested in exploring a mythical love story between two teenagers who have escaped mutually hellish backgrounds in modern day Cambodia and Michael and I fashioned a very simple fable-like love story road film, examining the way love can temporarily transcend trauma. RUIN was ultimately shot in two twenty day blocks a year apart with an Australian crew and the Cambodian production company Hanuman Films. Working in the nexus between documentary and drama, RUIN has a potent fundamental authenticity and as an experiment in sheer will and instinct it expanded an already fluid methodology that will continue to develop with several upcoming projects.

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